I should be a large image.

Lesser Celandine

Ficaria verna
Updated Feb 08, 2023
 
1

Make a Positive Identification

  • Lesser celandine (also known as fig buttercup) grows 6–8 inches tall. It has dark-green leaves shaped like hearts, and yellow flowers. Flowers form in late winter. Plants die back in spring and emerge in the fall.
  • Lesser celandine spreads via seeds, tubers, root fragments, and stem bulbs (bulbils).
Species: Lesser Celandine
Dense patch of of lesser celandine with flowers

Lesser celandine forms dense patches that are visible in later winter and spring. Above-ground stems die back and are not visible during summer and fall.

Species: Lesser Celandine
Lesser celandine plants with roots and stems next to ruler

David L. Clement, University of Maryland, Bugwood.org

Plants grow about 6–8 inches tall from the base (rosette).

Species: Lesser Celandine
Yellow flower with 8 yellow sepals

Yellow flowers have yellow sepals (resemble petals).

Species: Lesser Celandine
Lesser celandine tubers

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Below-ground, lesser celandine forms tubers. The tubers are energy reserves for plant growth and can form new plants.

Species: Lesser celandine
Small, pale bulbs on stems

Small, pale bulbs (called bulbils) form on the stems. They attach to your shoes, clothes, and equipment and spread to new locations. Bulbils are carried by flowing water to new areas.

Free help Identifying Weeds, Insects & Pests
Get expert pest management info & advice online from OSU's Ask Extension.
Get Help
LOOK-ALIKE: MARSH MARIGOLD
Species: marsh marigold
Marsh marigold plant with yellow flowers

Rob Routledge, Sault College, Bugwood.org

The native wetland plant marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) has leaves and flowers that resemble those of lesser celandine. However, marsh marigold doesn’t form dense patches like lesser celandine.


Helpful

This native plant doesn’t require management.

 
2

Lesser Celandine Benefits

  • Lesser celandine is an invasive weed. It doesn’t have any benefits for people and the environment.
 

Lesser Celandine Risks

  • Lesser celandine quickly grows extensive patches.
  • It crowds out other understory plants.
  • During the summer, the stems die and leave the soil surface bare and prone to erosion.

 

Risk Card
Does it cause harm?
Adults & Children
None
Property
High
Pets
None
Annoyance
Very High
Environment
High
Action Highly Recommended
 
3

Take Action

Lesser celandine is an invasive weed. Take action to control it.

Do I need to take action?
Yes. Remove individual plants and small patches before you see flowers. Established patches require several years of effort and monitoring to control.

What if I do nothing?
Lesser celandine spreads rapidly and takes over areas. It spreads easily to natural areas where it degrades habitat.

NEED HELP?

Consider a licensed pest control company. Learn How to Hire a Pest Control Company.
Your local Extension Specialist in Oregon  and other states  can suggest other methods.

 
4
Solutions for Lesser Celandine

Early Detection & Rapid Response

Watch for lesser celandine on property you manage. Remove it before it becomes a bigger problem.

Physical Removal of Plants & Non-Chemical Options

Dig out plants. Sift the soil to remove all stems, bulbs, and roots.

Herbicides (Weed Killers)

Herbicides effectively control lesser celandine when used according to the label instructions.

Monitoring & Follow-Up

  • Look for lesser celandine rosettes and flowers in the late winter and early spring.
  • Act before or during its early flowering period.
  • Return to the stand and look for regrowth throughout winter and early spring. Control lesser celandine as needed each year.
  • After you remove lesser celandine, new plants will grow in the same spot unless you take steps to prevent them.

Jump To

Method Does it work? Is it safe? Recommendation
A
Physically Remove Plants
Somewhat effective
Low risk
B
Herbicides Triclopyr & Glyphosate
Effective
Moderate risk
Use if Necessary
C
If Using Herbicides, Protect Yourself & Minimize Risks
D
Prevent Lesser Celandine
 
A

Physically Remove Plants

Non-Chemical Method

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

Physically Remove Plants

  • Dig out individual plants and sift the soil. Remove all the stems, tubers, and root pieces.
  • Dispose of the plants (all parts) in the trash. To keep this invasive plant from spreading to a new location, do not compost it.
Does it work?
Somewhat effective
  • It’s challenging to remove the tubers and root pieces from the soil. Expect lesser celandine to regrow.
  • Use preventive measures for best results.
How much effort?
High effort
  • Dig out stems, tubers, and roots. Sift the soil.
  • Return to the area each year and repeat as needed.
What's the risk?
Low risk

Digging large stands of established plants creates significant soil disturbance.

Possible risk of exposure or harm from chemicals
NONE

In winter and early spring, dig out individual plants. Sift the soil to remove all the root pieces.

Lesser celandine tubers

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Dig out plant with tools. Carefully remove the root tuber and roots from the soil.

Lesser celandine roots and bulbs

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Sift through the soil to remove all the root pieces and tubers. Even small pieces of roots can regrow.

Sealable plastic bag next to trash can with note “invasive plant, do not compost”

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

  • Place all plant material in a plastic bag labeled “invasive plant, do not compost.”
  • Put the bagged material into the trash. Or take it to a landfill for disposal.
  • Don’t put lesser celandine plant material in a home compost pile, green waste bin, or recycling service. It could spread to new locations.

 

Tips for Removing Lesser Celandine Plants

  • Removing tubers and roots with tools is difficult. This method is not recommended for large, established stands.
  • If you are digging in an area that floods, remove tubers and bulbils completely. Keep the plant parts from floating downstream and taking root in new areas.
  • It will take repeated effort over several years to remove a large patch of lesser celandine.
  • Dispose of the plants in the trash. Don’t put them in home compost or yard debris. The remnants will spread the plant to new areas.

Soil Disturbance & Erosion

  • Minimize soil disturbance as much as possible when removing lesser celandine.
  • Regrade the soil after digging out roots. Apply mulch (when appropriate).
  • Take steps to prevent erosion as needed.
  • Replant the area to shade out more weeds.
 
B

Herbicides Triclopyr & Glyphosate

Chemical Method: Use with caution

magesines, iStock

Herbicides Triclopyr & Glyphosate

Use if Necessary

Herbicides with the active ingredients triclopyr and glyphosate can control lesser celandine but the timing is critical. Apply before lesser celandine flowers.

Does it work?
Effective
  • Requires several years of monitoring and treatment.
  • Use preventive measures for best results.
How much effort?
Moderate effort

Spot-spray individual plants and patches.

What's the risk?
Moderate risk
  • Herbicides come with real risks. ALWAYS read the entire label front to back. Review instructions even for brands you know.
  • Herbicides can run off your site into waterways and may harm wildlife. See How to Keep Pesticides Out of Waterways.
Possible risk of exposure or harm from chemicals
Using herbicides includes some amount of risk. The lowest risk comes with using alternative methods.

You may be exposed to an herbicide if you:

  • Get it on your skin
  • Breathe it in
  • Eat or smoke afterward without washing hands
  • Touch or eat plants that are wet with spray (you, pets, or children)
  • Bring it inside on your shoes or clothes

Follow directions closely to reduce risk.

Herbicides with active ingredients triclopyr and/or glyphosate used individually or in a mixture are effective chemical treatments for lesser celandine. Look for these chemical names in the “Active Ingredients” section of product labels.

Photo of herbicide label highlighting active ingredient triclopyr

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

  • The white box on the example product label highlights active ingredient triclopyr. The text on the label states “Kills completely … roots won’t regrow.”
  • Triclopyr doesn’t injure most grasses. It is a good choice for treating lesser celandine growing next to desired grasses in lawn, pasture, and meadow areas.
Photo of herbicide label highlighting active ingredient glyphosate
  • The white box on the example label highlights active ingredient glyphosate. Text on the label states “Kills grass and weeds around flower beds, trees, shrubs....”
  • Glyphosate will damage most plants and grasses. Don’t let the spray contact plants you want to keep.

Herbicide Application Tips

  • Apply herbicides in winter or early spring before or after lesser celandine starts to flower. It will take two to four weeks for the treated plants to die.
  • Monitor the area and repeat treatment each year, as needed.

Herbicide Application Requirements for Aquatic Areas

  • Herbicides applied over or near a water body must be registered for aquatic use.
  • Treating lesser celandine near aquatic areas requires specialized skills. This ensures the herbicide is applied effectively. It also protects waterways.
  • Aquatic-use products are rarely sold at plant nurseries or garden centers. They are available through specialty pesticide dealers.
  • Aquatic formulas of herbicide products containing active ingredients glyphosate effectively control lesser celandine when used according to label directions.
  • Other aquatic-use herbicide products may be legal in your area. Consult a licensed pesticide applicator or your local university extension agent before purchasing or using an aquatic herbicide product.
Consider hiring a licensed pesticide applicator to manage lesser celandine in aquatic areas.
 

If Using Herbicides, Protect Yourself & Minimize Risks

Chemical Method: Use with Caution
Great blue heron in marsh

BrianLasenby, iStock

Why is it important to read herbicide labels?

  • They have detailed information on how to use the product correctly and legally.
  • They contain information on potential hazards of the product.
  • They provide instructions you should follow for poisonings and spills.
  • Following label instructions helps you to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits.

Key Herbicide Safety Tips

  • Read the entire label front to back.
  • Follow the instructions.
  • Review the instructions even for brands you know.
  • Only apply the product where the label says it may be applied.
  • Be precise in your application. More is not better.

READ THE LABEL & Follow Instructions
It has instructions to protect you and the environment.

  • Labels are different for every product and they often change over time.
  • Use a magnifying glass.
  • Pay attention to CAUTION, WARNING, and DANGER statements.
  • Pay attention to the PRECAUTIONARY STATEMENTS.
  • The law states you must read and follow herbicide instructions.

Protect Yourself
Eye, skin & lung irritants

  • Wear the right protective gear. This often includes chemical-resistant gloves, safety glasses, a long-sleeve shirt, pants, socks, and shoes.
  • Mix outdoors or in a well-ventilated area.
  • Wash hands after mixing or applying, and before eating or smoking.
  • Take a shower immediately after handling herbicides.
  • Wash clothes worn while mixing or applying separately from other laundry.

Protect Children & Pets
Children and pets are at risk if they eat or touch the plants before it dries.

  • Keep them away during and after applying herbicides (read label for how long).
  • Remove toys and pet dishes from yard before applying.
  • Don’t track herbicide products into your home on shoes or clothes.

Protect Plants You Want to Keep

  • Glyphosate and similar herbicide ingredients damage both grass and broadleaf plants.
  • Minimize spraying of foliage, stems, exposed roots, or the trunks of desirable shrubs or trees to avoid harm.
  • Follow the label to avoid damaging the roots of trees and shrubs.

Don’t Spray into Water

  • It’s illegal to apply herbicides in a stream or slow moving/wetland pool.
  • You need a product registered for aquatic areas. This includes waterways, ditches, drains, and other places where water collects.

Avoid Wet, Windy, or Hot Weather
Use during favorable weather for best results.

  • Don’t spray when it’s raining or when rain is expected in the next 24 hours.
  • Wind causes spray to drift that can get on you and desired plants.
  • Herbicides may be less effective in hot weather if the target plants are moisture-stressed.
  • Some herbicides can turn into a vapor in hot weather and damage nearby plants.

Storage & Disposal

  • Store in a secure area away from children.
  • Don’t put unused herbicide products in the trash.
  • Never pour down any drain or waterway.
  • Take unused herbicides to a hazardous waste facility.

Call  1-800-CLEANUP (1-800-253-2687) to find out where to dispose of herbicides.

For the Portland metro region in Oregon, contact Metro’s Recycling Information. Call  503-234-3000, email   or visit Metro’s website  

More about:

About Using Pesticides on School Grounds in Oregon

If using pesticides on school grounds, there are special rules in Oregon. See School Integrated Pest Management  (Oregon Department of Agriculture).

NEED HELP?

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)  can answer questions about pest control chemicals.
 1-800-858-7378 or npic@ace.orst.edu  

Consider using a licensed pest or weed control company. Learn How to Hire a Pest Control Company.

Your local Extension Specialist in Oregon  and other states  can suggest other methods.

 

Prevent Lesser Celandine

Lesser celandine bulbils and early growth on ground surface

Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, Bugwood.org

Watch for Lesser Celandine Each Year
  • Managing large stands requires several years of follow-up monitoring and treatment.
  • Look for bulbs on the soil surface as shown in the photo during the winter. Mark the locations for later treatment.
  • Plan control actions in winter or early spring. Continue to monitor the area each year.
Gloved hand using metal brush to clean shovel

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

Remove Dirt from Shoes & Equipment
  • After working or traveling in an area with lesser celandine, clean your boots and tools. Use a wire brush to remove all the plant parts.
  • If you drive into the lesser celandine stand, clean your vehicle.
Landscape area with native plants growing densely together

Weston Miller, Oregon State University

Install New Plants
  • Take care of the plants to get them established and to suppress lesser celandine regrowth.
  • Replanting stabilizes the soil surface, shades lesser celandine seedlings, and creates habitat.
  • Invasion by lesser celandine and removal activities may significantly damage a site, resulting in few or no desirable plants remaining.
  • Plan for at least 2-3 years of monitoring and maintenance.
  • Your local Extension specialist, soil and water conservation district, or a professional revegetation specialist can suggest strategies for your area.
More Prevention Tips
  • Lesser celandine sometimes is offered at plant swaps and sales. It is attractive and easy to grow. Don’t buy it.
  • Educate other people about this invasive plant.

Invasive Species Alert

  • Invasives are non-native species that spread aggressively and alter the environment.
  • Controlling lesser celandine is costly.
  • Please do your part to control it on property you manage. Lesser celandine can spread beyond your property and impact your neighbors.

If you think you’ve lesser celandine in the grey areas of this map, please report it to the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline at:  1-866-INVADER (1-888-468-2337) or use their online reporting form  

open Map static invasive map
Invasive species data @ 2022, iMapInvasives (NatureServe)

If you find lesser celandine in a new area (orange shows already reported cases), please report it  

View Larger Map >

Content provided by editor Weston Miller and writers Jessica Green and J. Jeremiah Mann. Pesticide safety information edited by Kaci Buhl.

 Peer reviewed by OSU Department of Horticulture.

Photo of Weston Miller

Weston Miller

Project Founder and Content Writer

Weston Miller served as Community and Urban Horticulture faculty for Oregon State University Extension Service for Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties. Weston is an author for content for this website. He developed funding partnerships with Portland area agencies to initiate and build out the Solve Pest Problems website focused on this goals:

Photo of Jessica Green

Jessica Green

Jessica Green ...

J. Jeremiah Mann

J. Jeremiah Mann

J. Jeremiah Mann completed a Physical Science undergraduate degree at Humboldt State University, and M.S, Ph.D focusing on plant science topics at UC Davis. He went on to work for the Natural Resources Conservation Service and in a leadership position serving a private agricultural technology company. He currently lives in Sacramento California where he consults on pest and property management topics.

Photo of Kaci Buhl

Kaci Buhl

At the state level, I lead the Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP). The program hosts live recertification events around the state, serving over 1,000 licensed pesticide applicators each year. We also produce web-based training modules and license-preparation study manuals. Special training for unlicensed pesticide applicators is also available through a grant from the USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The PSEP at OSU works closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture's Pesticides Division.